How to video conference like a seasoned pro.

illustration of a man on sitting at a desk during a virtual meeting

Working remotely can be tough. And now that teleconferencing has become a workday norm for most companies, you’ve probably witnessed (and dealt with) a few meeting mishaps along the way. To help you through your next virtual meeting, here are our top tips for successful video conferencing:

Manage pop-up alerts.

In today’s world, we have the ability to sync up all of our devices. This conveniently allows us to receive calls, view texts, preview emails and keep tabs on upcoming meetings without glancing away from our computer screens. The problem, however, is that those rings, dings and pings can be a distraction for you and all the people on your call. And if you’re screen sharing, pop-ups can disrupt your presentation or accidentally reveal personal (and potentially embarrassing) information.

Tip: Mac users can disable notifications by turning on “do not disturb.” PC users can do the same by doing this.

Troubleshoot ahead of time.

Dealing with spotty internet, needing to download a surprise plug-in or just realizing your battery is at 5% — we’ve all been there. But stress levels can certainly soar if any of these technical difficulties are holding you up for a big meeting.

Tip: Use your 10-minute calendar reminder as your alert that it’s time to get prepped. It’s a great time to test your connection, software, get set up and comfortable and grab a beverage.

Keep focus. 

Let’s be real. It’s easy to forget that people can see and hear what you’re doing when you’re sitting at home alone, especially when you’ve been sitting on the same call for a while. 

Tip: While zoning out or multitasking are tempting, try to stay present and focused during your call. Take notes, ask questions and follow along with the conversation.

Pick your background.

You’d be surprised to know that not many people care about the blocks toppled across your floor or that stack of laundry sitting in the corner. But if you want to leave a little mystery surrounding your “home life,” that’s ok too.

Tip: With Zoom, you can use their virtual backgrounds to disguise what’s happening behind you. Not on Zoom? No problem. Move to an area where there’s a blank wall or, if it’s nice out, pull up a chair on your backyard patio. If all else fails and you’re in the middle of a toy-pocalypse, simply leave your camera off.

Find your light.

Sometimes your favorite work-from-home spot happens to put your back against a brightly-lit window, which may or may not give you the appearance of one of those anonymous interviewees you see on true crime television. Likewise, sitting in a dark room with only the glow of the screen on your face might give off a bit of a horror movie vibe.

Tip: Let in the natural light and position yourself so that your face isn’t stuck in the shadows. And if you’re in a room with no natural lighting, try turning on a couple nearby lamps.

Silence outside noises.

Whether you’re working on the patio or sitting by an open window, a bit of fresh air is nice. But with fresh air comes outside sounds. And heavy construction, sirens, trains and lawn mowers all have a way of making conversations a bit harder to hear.

Tip: If one of these noise makers happens to interrupt, it’s ok to go on mute for a moment or two. And if you’re presenting, simply explain the situation and ask a team member to take over while you move to a quieter location or wait for the noise to pass by.

Catch a break.

Back-to-back meetings can be tough on anyone’s schedule. And when they take the fully scheduled time (or more), it leaves little to no room for much needed breaks away from your screen. 

Tip: Schedule meetings to end 10 to 15 minutes before the hour or half hour mark. This will give others a chance to grab a snack or stretch their legs.

Stop screen share whiplash.

Watching someone zip around their desktop, clicking through tabs and shuffling through files to find what they need to share with the group can be a bit disorienting and cause delays in the conversation.

Tip: If you’re the presenter or are expected to share an item during your meeting, be prepared. Have the files, apps and links you need open and ready to go.

Thwart Zoom bombers.

According to news sources and social feeds, Zoom bombers are crashing meetings big and small — wreaking havoc among home offices around the globe. They can grind your meeting to a halt, learn confidential information or just be a nuisance. 

Tip: To keep yourself and your meetings protected, always use a password — and give it out to meeting participants in a secure way. 

Remember, working remotely can be tough. But with the right tools, you’ll be ready to face any 8 a.m. virtual meeting with confidence and ease. And when in doubt, keep in mind that no one will care (or even know) if you’re wearing gym shorts.

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